Transphobia Rather Than Education Predicts Provider Knowledge of Transgender Health Care

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Med Educ


PURPOSE: Transgender and gender diverse (TGD) patients face significant hurdles in accessing affirming, knowledgeable care. Lack of provider knowledge presents a substantial barrier to both primary and transition-related care and may deter patients from seeking health care. Little is known about factors that affect provider knowledge or whether exposure to TGD health content during training is associated with improved knowledge among providers. Using the TGD Healthcare Knowledge Scale, this study aimed to determine whether prior education on TGD health predicts clinicians' current knowledge regarding health care for TGD patients.

METHODS: An online survey examining exposure to TGD content and knowledge of TGD health care was distributed to all primary care providers in an integrated health care system in the Midwestern United States. Multivariable linear regression was used to predict provider knowledge, controlling for demographics, transphobia and other potential confounders.

RESULTS: The response rate was 57.3% (n = 223). The mean knowledge score was 7.41 (SD = 1.31) on a 10-point scale. Almost half (48.4%, n = 108) had no formal education on TGD health care, yet half (49.7%, n = 111) of providers reported previously caring for at least one transgender patient. In regression analysis, provider knowledge of TGD health care was associated with transphobia (β = -0.377, 95% CI = -0.559 to -0.194, p < 0.001), but not with hours of formal education (β = -0.027, 95% CI = -0.077 to 0.023, p = 0.292) or informal education (β = -0.012, 95% CI = -0.033 to 0.009, p = 0.259).

CONCLUSIONS: Increasing hours of education related to TGD health care may not be sufficient to improve providers' competence in care for TGD individuals. Transphobia may be a barrier to learning that needs to be addressed. Broader efforts to address transphobia in society in general, and in medical education in particular, may be required to improve the quality of medical care for TGD patients.

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ePub ahead of print